Even if you're getting responses to your cover letters, you could be getting a better response. That is, the employer or prospect for your services or products contacts you faster, treats you better, and is more open to negotiation. And you "close" the deal. You get the job, the contract assignment, or the new business.
The good news is that small changes can have big impacts on what is essentially sales material. Yes, your cover letter is how you pitch yourself for work, of all kinds. Here are 8 small changes that have proven out to generate positive outcomes:
Put a powerful phrase in the subject matter slot. Instead of just repeating the job title such as "Inside salesperson for fitness," you put "Sales pro generated 34% increase" or "Award-winning sales pro in wellness." That will bias the reader to pay more attention to the letter which follows.
State briefly why you want the work. If the name of the organization is given, cite the positive which makes this an all-time opportunity. For example, "The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is the most effective advocate for Latino entrepreneurs. I can make more opportunities happen. That's why I want to partner with the USHCC."
State edge, fast. The next sentence should be the edge you have. For instance, "During my last 4 consulting assignments, I increased sales an average of 35%." Or, "My signature edge is simplifying legalese in all consumer materials, ranging from contracts to labeling."
Keep focus recent. The curse of the Baby Boomer is to list too much experience. That's a red flag. It signals you're old. It indicates you don't know how to present yourself to a busy employer. And it makes you look too expensive. Just discuss very recent experience and focus on positive outcomes.
Offer something free. That could be a complimentary consultation about the organization's opportunities and pain points. That could be to work a day or two without payment to demonstrate what you can do.
Give a call to action. Tell them you are looking forward to discussing the opportunity further or that you are going to follow up in 10 days.
Proofread. Invest that time in how you present yourself.
Keep reviewing your letters. It might be as simple as deleting a sentence here or adding a word there. Once I changed the phrase "Executive Communications" to the more specific "Advocacy Communications," the response was much better.
Cover letters are usually your only point of contact with the powers-that-be who can give you work. That's why they are so important. You must take the time to continue to improve them.